The Birds of Opulence by Crystal Wilkinson

Crystal Wilkinson, founding member of the Affrilachian Poets and Kentucky’s current Poet Laureate, is an outstanding author even among our state’s especially rich history of lyrical storytellers. Set in the fictional rural, black township of Opulence, Kentucky, this 2016 novel gives voice to the lives of generations of women of the Goode and Brown families in the twentieth century. The reader floats through the hidden lives of these characters, suffering along with them the abuses and losses they experience and the pressure of living up to community moral expectations (or at least avoiding becoming the subject of local gossip and scorn). But there are also the joyful experiences – the public celebrations, family reunions. And above all there is love: the intensity of the romantic loves and the complexity of the love that binds the families.

Wilkinson brings to life for us a much different time when magic was much more real and connections to the land, to family, and to the community were uninterrupted by our current pace of life, industrialization, digitalization, and urbanization.

– Review by Scott, Main Library